One fifty minute session per week is simply not enough to change a person’s life. If insight is to translate into meaningful life change it needs to be accompanied by small daily actions and lifestyle changes that translate insight into action so that change becomes sustainable and renewable. The fifty minute hour is a crucial underpinning for change because it’s where we can work through inner conflicts that may be keeping us stuck and blocking our ability to grow. But if we really want to see change in our lives, we need to take a holistic approach both as therapists and clients not only to what goes on in the therapist’s office, but outside of it.

We live in the middle of a constant cascade of information; we know random factoids about everything from the anti-oxidants in blueberries to why crossword puzzles help us to slow down the aging process. But what we know doesn’t necessarily get translated into what we do or who we’re able to become. We can have all sorts of great insights but if we lead lifestyles that put us under too much stress, eat foods that make our moods spike and dip, drink caffeine that makes us buzz and crash or use alcohol or drugs to manage emotional turmoil, insight won’t help all that much. We’ll still feel stressed out, out of balance and all over the place. When we “know too much” and “do too little”, or if we “know better” but “do worse” discouragement follows. We set ourselves up for disappointment because we know enough to have high expectations but we undermine our progress by living lifestyles that create stress and imbalance. We think “I know better than this so why isn’t change happening?” “I understand what triggers me and what my issues are, so why do I still get triggered and have issues, why do things still hurt?”

Emotions are a lot like the weather and people are like any other ecosystem. If a person’s emotional insulation layer gets compromised by too much stress and toxic living, they will experience the same sorts of extremes in their emotional climate that global warming causes in our weather system. They will have trouble with self regulation, they will tend toward emotional extremes because their ability to self regulate will be undermined. It will be harder for them to simply live comfortably in a balanced emotional mood.

Therapy is a wonderful place to examine emotional and psychological patterns of thinking, feeling and behavior that get us into trouble so that we can change them. This is where insight can be very freeing, once we understand the origins of particular patterns we “see” what’s going on and feel able to change them. But, if we’re going to therapy, gaining all sorts of good insights then living a lifestyle that undermines what I like to refer to as our “emotional sobriety” we may not see the changes we’re looking for.

If we want to make therapy sustainable and renewable, we’ll need to make lifestyle changes that go far beyond the office; the kinds of changes that become self generative and self sustaining. In order to do this, we need to understand how our emotions, bodies, thinking and action all work together as a well oiled machine, or how they get out of whack if we don’t take care of them. Over the next few weeks I will go through some of those changes one by one and discuss the underpinnings of good emotional sobriety and balance. Emotional Sobriety: From Relationship Trauma to Resilience and Balance

In short these books will help you: